Person of the Week: Aleksei Moroshkin

posted 5 Jun 2017, 06:48 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Jun 2017, 06:49 ]
On 1 June 2017 a district court in Chelyabinsk ruled that Aleksei Moroshkin must be released from a psychiatric hospital, where he has been held since 2015 for inciting ‘separatism’ online,
RFE/RL has reported. Aleksei Moroshkin was forcibly committed to a psychiatric hospital after a court in Chelyabinsk found him guilty of violations of the territorial integrity of Russia on the Internet on 19 November 2015 (Article 280.1, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). The judge ruled that Moroshkin should be subject to compulsory detention in a psychiatric hospital, despite the factx that Moroshkin’s family and defence said he was in absolutely good health. 

The court found that Moroshkin, creator of an online group in VKontakte titled ‘For a battling Ukraine! For a free Urals!’, had made calls to establish a 'Urals People'e Republic' that were in break of Article 280.1, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code. RFE/RL notes that the statements Moroshkin published online resembled in many ways the calls by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine who supported the creation of the so-called 'people's republics' of Donetsk and Lugansk. However, under the above law, calls for what may be termed 'separatism' are illegal in Russia. RFE/RL quotes Moroshkin's lawyer, Andrei Lepekhin, as saying that on 1 June 2017 a district court in the city of Chelyabinsk ruled that Moroshkin should  be released on the grounds that he did not pose a threat to society. According to Lepekhin, Moroshkin should be released 10 days after the ruling has  been made public.  

Memorial Human Rights Centre declared Aleksei Moroshkin to be a political prisoner. In a statement, Memorial Human Rights Centre said: 'In our view, Article 280.1 (public incitement to actions aimed at violating the territorial integrity of Russia) of the Russian Criminal Code contradicts the Russian Constitution and international human rights treaties. We consider it impermissible to criminalize manifestations of separatism not related to violence or its propaganda, but that only lead to theoretical discussions about whether regions should be allowed to separate from the country. The statements by Aleksei Moroshkin on the creation of a Urals Republic did not contain any calls for the forcible violation of the territorial integrity of Russia. Like similar posts on the Internet in other regions (about the Kuban People’s Republic, Ingria and others), they were to a significant degree a kind of journalistic reaction to the creation of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (DNR) and the ‘Lugansk People’s Republic’ (LNR) in the east of Ukraine. It should be noted that Rafis Kashapov in Tatarstan and Darya Poliudova in Krasnodar region have already been sentenced under the same article to terms in prison, and recognized by Memorial Human Rights Centre as political prisoners. Neither in the materials of the criminal case, nor in the court’s judgment, is there in our view any evidence that Aleksei Moroshkin represents a public danger of the kind that would necessitate him being isolated from society in a clinic of a closed kind. We consider his detention to be unlawful.' 

Memorial went on to say that it believed Aleksei Moroshkin had been prosecuted for his civil society opposition activity and for speaking out against the hybrid war of Russia against Ukraine: 'For example, in the court’s judgment, as evidence of his guilt reference is made to the testimony of the witness V. Smirnov who was "upset" that Moroshkin "urges people to protest against the lawful authorities and is trying to put the blame for events in the east of Ukraine on the current leadership of our country."’ 

Memorial also made the point that 'The fact that opposition views have been found by psychiatrists to be "schizophrenic reformist nonsense" and served as the basis for the decision to subject the civil society activist to forcible treatment, directly returns us to the Soviet regime’s methods of fighting against dissidents.' 

It should be noted that Aleksei Moroshkin has also been charged with painting (in 2015) a bust of Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, in the colours of the Ukrainian flag (vandalism – Article 214, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code). On this point, Memorial stated: 'Independently of whatever decision the court takes, we consider a criminal prosecution for painting a memorial to be disproportionate. Such a violation of the law contains no element of violence, and therefore, in our view, should be considered an administrative offence.' 

Photo Of Aleksei Moroshkin: RFE/RL

'Court Orders Release Of Russian Activist From Psychiatric Clinic,' RFE/RL, 1 June 2017
'Memorial recognizes "Urals separatist" Aleksei Moroshkin as a political prisoner,' Memorial Human Rights Centre, 11 July 2016 [see Rights in Russia for an English version]